Wheelchairs: Love to Have, Hate to Need


Wheelchairs, scooters and I have a love/hate relationship. Not hate the actual chair, just the need to use one, hate the fact that my mobility is so badly affected by multiple sclerosis that walking, with a walking aid, any further than 10 to 15 yards is impossible without sitting down.

From that, you will probably realise the reason that various ways of getting around have played a part in my life in the last few years and will continue doing so.

Let’s start with scooters. There have been a couple. I remember using one for the first time, the feeling of independence was incredible. The first one bought from a mobility aids store was supposedly a mini sized model. It was certainly the smallest one on display but it was heavy and was difficult to lift into a car.

I next bought a smaller model that easily came apart to pack into a car but its batteries just weren’t up to the job, so that one was a second failure.

Next it was time to give wheelchairs a chance. I’ve had two manual ‘self-propelled’ chairs but as MS means I have very little strength on my left side, if trying to propel myself, the chair goes in left handed circles; forget a straight line. That meant my wife Lisa had to push me and, while that never bothered her, it meant that my independence was curtailed.

j-silver10jMy doctor back in the UK recommended that I have a motorized chair ad, in due course, it was available. It was supposedly foldable but to achieve that two heavy and bulky batteries had to be disconnected and removed and lots more. In fact, to collapse that chair took about 40 minutes with a similar time to put it together again. Simply impossible without meeting the expense of getting a vehicle especially adapted to carry it without collapsing the chair.

More recently, though, I have bought one of the lightweight, foldable wheelchairs being widely advertised online by Better Products for Disabled People. Here, pictured above, is the wheelchair I bought,

Finally, I have found the perfect match for my needs. It folds and unfolds in matters of seconds. It is compact enough when folded to go in the back of our car along with the weekly shopping and is light enough, just, for my wife to lift into and out of the car.


Hey, that’s me in my new wheelchair in the HSCT centre in Moscow, with Dr Fedorenko and assistant Anastasia.

It has two sleek batteries that slide into the chair frame and is brilliant in use. It is easy to control, has the tightest of turning circles, in fact it can turn around in its own length, and can travel so far without recharging.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the chair with me to Moscow. As I was travelling alone, it made my life easy. Whether it was negotiating city streets, a bus station, hours in an airport waiting for the time for my flight, or travelling through the Moscow hospital’s maze of corridors, the new wheelchair coped and, eventually getting home, it still had more than half its charge. And no, I didn’t recharge it while away from home.

All in all, in my opinion, the BPDP wheelchair is the very best for my needs.

To see if it would suit you, just contact BPDP through its website or talk to Shaun Atkinson on Facebook.

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ian profile

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

Out and about by myself

By way of a change, I went out and about by myself yesterday morning. I went down our road, turned the corner and then quite some way down another road to see a couple with whom Lisa and I are friends.

The journey was well beyond my walking limit. I even have to sit down halfway from our door to the car in the drive and that is walking with the aid of a stick/cane. Any distance longer than that and Lisa has to  push me in my manual wheelchair. She doesn’t mind but it makes me feel so dependent

Yesterday, though, Lisa stayed at home and I went alone. It was exhilarating, it was fun.  No, I hadn’t made some sort of miraculous recovery.  wish I had but no, multiple sclerosis is still, regrettably, very much part of my life.

Yesterday’s freedom, and that was not the only example, was because I had just taken delivery of one of those fantastic all-singing, all-dancing lightweight folding electric wheelchairs. I had ordered one from Shaun Atkinson at Better Products for Disabled People it actually arrived on the promised day; amazing. My first impressions are that it is everything it is claimed to be – but I’ll be writing a full review once I have used it for a while.

06 blueI had already taken it out of our home, folded it up and somehow managed to place in in the back of the car. Today, it was taken it out of the car and unfolded it before I powered my way down to see our friends. Tremendous.

Then I reversed my journey and, having folded the chair, needed to sit down for a few minutes before having enough energy to lift it back into the car. But, in the end, I did just that.

Earlier, I used the wheelchair in our nearest town, when we went to see our doctor before enjoying breakfast in a local café bar.

As regular readers of this site know, I am travelling to Moscow this Sunday to undergo medical tests and assessment to determine whether or not I am likely to benefit from HSCT at a future date yet to be determined. My new chair is coming with me which will give me the independence I need in a foreign city.



Wheelchair user’s dream: Motorized, foldable and lightweight

As regular readers will know, I am a bit of an advocate when it comes to accessibility and mobility issues and, from time to time, do address these subjects. Those subjects are of particular interest to me as I have to use a wheelchair as my mobility is severely restricted because of multiple sclerosis.

Occasionally, I come across something that simply deserves to be highlighted because it fulfills a need that people with disabilities have. For example, someone who needs a wheelchair to get about has a general choice of a manual or motorized one.

A manual one either has to be self-propelled, if the user is physically able to do so, or be pushed, so the wheelchair user has to relinquish independence and rely on someone else.

The alternative, as I have discovered, is not much better. Motorized wheelchairs are great to use, easy to maneuver and control and give the user the feeling of real independence. However, they have a major downside too – and that is their weight. They are so heavy.

In fact, anyone that uses a motorized chair and wants to take it to different places needs a specially adapted vehicle with either a hoist, ramp or elevator platform to load the chair on board.

BUT, there is an answer to the problem. There are now good quality, lightweight, folding motorized chairs that make the old problems disappear:

  • They give the user the independence provided by all motorized chairs;06 blue
  • They fold-up in seconds to go in the boot (trunk) of even a small car;
  • They are light enough to be lifted easily into and out of a car by one person;
  • Their batteries simply pull out in seconds to be transported separately on aircraft;
  • They are light enough to be carried on and off tenders if the user is going on a cruise holiday.

Talking of cruises, here is a report from Emma. She had just taken delivery of one such folding motorized chair from Better Products for Disabled People. This is her story:

Earlier this month my husband and I set off on our first ever cruise, heading to the Norwegian Fjords. We had been recommended cruising for its excellent accessibility but had no idea what it would be like.

We were taking my new folding motorized wheelchair but were concerned after the warnings from the cruise company about narrow doors and door thresholds. We need not have worried.

For a week I had more freedom than I’ve had at any point since my MS took most of my eyesight; I could navigate the ship just fine, the wheelchair took it all in its stride. Door thresholds were no problem; narrow corridors and doors were only an issue because of my lack of sight and skill and I improved quickly.

The battery handled it brilliantly; I spent at least eight hours a day in the wheelchair zooming around deck, attending shows, going to meals or out on excursions and never had a single problem.

What I did have were lots of admiring glances which turned into questions about where I got my wheelchair from and how I like it. Who would have thought I would be a travelling sales woman? BPDP folding electric wheelchair you are an international lifesaver.

Now, you cannot say better than that. Much to the relief of my wife, Lisa, my BPDP chair is on order. When it arrives, we’ll have the best of both worlds. I’ll get my independence back as I use a motorized chair and it will come out and go back into the car as simply as a manual chair.


Better Products for Disabled People <<http://better-products-for-disabled-people.myshopify.com>>


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Tackling my own mobility issues

Do you have mobility problems? I certainly do, having multiple sclerosis and, in the last 10 years, have gone from walking reasonably well, using a stick, to today when I am still walking but only 15 or 20 yards before I have to sit down.

Just getting from my house to the car necessitates a stop halfway, to sit down. Then after a couple of minutes I can complete the journey to our car.

06-in-hatchThe car is a MPV which carries my electric wheelchair. It´s very good but it is heavy and requires the use of a ramp to unload the chair from the car and put it back in. It is not a vehicle that is especially adapted, my wife has to manhandle a four-fold portable ramp which is not an easy job.

The other problem is that if we go out in someone else’s car, we cannot take the powered wheelchair so we put a manual chair in the boot meaning that when we get to our destination I have to rely on someone else to push me around.

So, now I have placed an order for a lightweight folding powered wheelchair. It unfolds and unfolds in seconds. The battery pulls out very simply and the chair, when folded, can be easily lifted into the boot of a car. Just look at one in the back of the small hatchback, pictured above.

Soon, when it arrives, life will become simplicity itself. No more using a ramp, the chair will unfold and fold in a matter of seconds and it won’t tire us out.

Wherever we go, by ourselves or with friends, independence will be mine.

The chair I have ordered, except mine is silver.

The chair I have ordered, except mine is silver.


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All new folding electric wheelchair is light enough to be carried aboard some cruise ships’ tenders

Crew members prepare to assist a wheelchair user to board a tender to travel back to the ship.

Crew members prepare to assist a manual wheelchair user to board a tender to travel back to the ship.

If you are fond of cruise holidays, you are far from alone and if you have any form of disability, you can be assured that all cruise companies will do their very best to help you.

What has always been a problem for users of electric wheelchair, however, are those ports of call where the ship cannot moor alongside but has to drop anchor and ferry all passengers ashore using tenders.

To transfer from ship to tender and from tender to jetty, a wheelchair user has to be capable of a taking a few steps with help but also have a collapsible chair that can be easily lifted onto and off the tender. And, up to now, this has really meant using a manual one.

Now, though, things might change.

Some cruise companies don’t allow their staff to pick up electric chairs but others do as long as they don’t exceed their weight limit. For example, Princess Cruises allows its individual crew members to lift chairs weighing no more than 22kgs (49lbs).1

Well, being a wheelchair user myself, I am excited to have just found one potential answer to this problem. I am sure that there may be others but this is the one I discovered:06 blue

It is a lightweight folding electric wheelchair. It folds and unfolds in seconds and can be lifted easily when collapsed. This particular model has two batteries, together weighing 4kgs (9lbs) that can be slid out easily to be carried separately and, without them, the chair weighs just 21kgs (46.3lbs).

The model in question is the Chinese-made BPDP 06J available from Better Products for Disabled People and you can find all you need to know here. That company also sells another folding model, the 10J, which is heavier and more expensive.2


1Please remember to check your cruise company’s wheelchair requirements with respect to tendering.

2If you know of any other folding electric wheelchairs that meet these weight requirements, please let me know and I’ll update the details.


Please note: I am a person who likes to travel and enjoys cruising but needs to use a wheelchair. This blog post is for people in a situation similar to myself as well as family members and carers. It is purely for information and is not in any way commercial.



Choosing the right wheelchair for your needs

invacare-mirage-396x266_edited product-list-xs2-alum-w300h330               Left, a standard non-folding electric wheelchair and, right, a self-propelling manual chair.

To walk no further than 10 to 15 yards, the way multiple sclerosis affects me means that a walking stick or a cane is required. At the end of that, I need to sit and take a break. And even that short distance cannot be repeated over and over again.

So, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that a wheelchair is required if I need to move any greater distance than those few yards. But choosing the right wheelchair is not as easy as it might first appear as the choice is enormous.

The choice is extremely personal as the chair must suit your own individual needs.

In my case, it started off with a self-propelled manual chair, the type with the large rear wheels that are designed to be pushed by the wheelchair user. However, there was a problem that really should have anticipated. Multiple sclerosis has taken away most of the strength and dexterity of the left side of my body and so using both hands to propel the wheelchair is impossible. Going around in left hand circles? No problem there. Going straight or turning right? Forget it.

So a manual chair, for me, means the presence of a carer – a role lovingly performed by my wife, Lisa, with no complaints. But independence? Forget it.

An electric wheelchair was suggested and freedom of movement and independence was restored. Well, restored  up to a point.

You see, using it from home is no problem but if you want to use it elsewhere the electric chair has to be loaded into a car and unloaded at the other end and visa versa for the return trip. And, because of its size, it won’t fit in a normal car. I have a seven-seater MPV (or minivan) to carry mine.

bpdp06 foldedNow, though, lightweight folding electric chairs have started to become more widely known and are a fraction of the weight of traditional models, can be folded in seconds with batteries still on board, and simply lifted in and out of a standard car.

They are just fantastic and I am looking forward to being able to get one.

bpdp06From checking out the market, I’d say that Better Products for Disabled People (BPDP) is offering one of the best deals at the moment. It has two chairs to choose between and many different colours. The prices are reasonable, with the smaller one at £1758.50 [GBP] (seat width 400mm, weight 25kg and capacity 120kg) and the larger one at £1938.51 (seat 480mm, weight 27kg and capacity 180kg) – and that includes free delivery anywhere in the world.